Scotch Corner – Styx and Stones

Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 23rd April 2017.

 

Styx: Shards of Darkness (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £34.99)

HEROES are muscle-ripped giants who are great to have beside you in a fight.  Heroes are not goblin thieves who jump around in the shadows.  But Styx: Shards Of Darkness does not play by normal rules, so your hero is a short, squat, ugly thief.  The developing team at Cyanide like coming at things from a different angle, and Shards works.

The tale picks up 20 years after the last game.  Styx makes a deal with the humans but is double-crossed by a shape shifter.  Now he is out for revenge.  He must infiltrate the Dark Elven city of Koranger and find out why he was sold out.  It is all very high fantasy — full of elves, dwarves and trolls.  If you like that sort of thing then you will love this 20-25 hour fantasy festival.  There is loads of lore to get lost in, not to mention the fact that you will actually get to like Styx although you may quickly tire of his mind-numbing put-downs when you get him killed.

The Styx games are built around stealth — you need to take your time and work out how and where to go.  Most times, if you end up in a sword fight you’ll end up dead, so you need to play smart.  The gameplay is an upgrade to Master Of Shadows so if you played that then you will get to grips with this quickly.  Each level is huge and it is easy to get lost as you hunt for hidden treasure or discover three entry points to a stage — each with their own outcomes.  Add in the fact that most missions have secondary goals and you can see there are many distractions.  You can craft weapons from items you find and, as you would expect, a stealth thief has a healthy arsenal of tools to distract enemies or attack people.  It is all backed up by Styx’s skill tree, which sees you able to unlock abilities like cloning yourself and becoming a lock-picking master.

Graphically, the game carries a great mood.  From pirate docks to steampunk-inspired airships everything has a great look and style.  The soundtrack adds a mix of orchestral epics while the environmental sounds are outstanding.  And let’s hear it for Saul Jephcott — he does a outstanding job back as Styx.  The game isn’t perfect — it isn’t the easiest game in the world at times.  The new co-op mode is a fun blast, but it does make some of the levels much harder than they really should be.  Overall, the controls aren’t as tight as you’d like at times.  But Styx will float your boat.  The game is a sneaky journey through the darker side of fantasy and the gameplay and tone rise above any issues you will find.  It is a break from the norm — even if it is a goblin thief.

Score 4.5/5

Race the Sun (Xbox One and multiformat, £7.99)

IT has been a big week for Race the Sun — after a four-year journey the indie title made it on to Xbox One.  The Flippfly frenzy is great fun.  You have to fly your bird-like solar-powered ship as far as you can before the sun sets.  But you must dodge objects and obstacles at breakneck speeds.  The game is pseudo-procedurally-generated which means that a run will be the same for a day but will change the next day, but you can still learn the route.  It is simple but it is still super-addictive.

You race through regions with different challenges like huge towers with shadows that cause you to lose power.  You can also grab power-ups along the way which can save your day.  You can unlock new abilities by completing challenges and they spice up the gameplay as you head through 25 levels.  The biggest issue is after reaching level 25.  You have all the toys so you just chase scores or turn it off.  It has a very striking look with bold black and grey shapes and power-ups in bright colours.  It makes them easy to spot.  Objects are red so you get a warning but it won’t help you much.

The soundtrack has a nice and crisp drum and bass-inspired beat as you speed all over the place.  It is a fun and challenging title that will drag you in and refuse to let you go.  If you love chasing leaderboard scores, you may never play anything else.

Score: 3.5/5

Forza Corner

PORSCHE is back in Forza — and the mega news gets even better.  Turn 10 have revealed the deal is a SIX-YEAR partnership.  Be still my beating heart.  The German manufacturer will feature in a range of Forza franchise.  The news was launched with a bang — a new Porsche Car Pack for Forza Horizon 3.  You get seven new Porsche rides — from classics like the 1960 718 RS 60 as well as powerhouses like the 2016 911 GT3 RS and everything in-between.  It will cost £5.79 and is out now.

You can also win some Porsches through this month’s #Forzathon challenges on Horizon 3.  That should be enough, but there is more.  The Forza Racing Championship is back for a third season.  The premier racing eSports program will have Porsche as its title sponsor and Gfinity will be taking the reins.  The championship held an invitational event at Microsoft’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York last weekend.  Eighteen of the best ForzaRC’s players from around the world competed for $25,000 in cash.  Taylor “CAR Lightning” Stomski took top spot by a point from Alexandre “BAM ASIX13” Arnou.  The new season kicks off later this month.  If you fancy it then head to http://forzarc.gfinity.net/ to sign up.

THE guys at PTG have a Charity Cup for MacMillan Cancer.  There will be three races — on May 6 and 20 and June 3 — on Forza 6 around Silverstone.  Race one is in a Works Minis, race two in a Mercedes Truck then race three in a Maserati GT.  The winner will bag a ticket to the British F1 GP in June.  Simply donate £5 or more to enter.  Watch on Twitch.com/YMYVracing.  Go to pendulumtuning.proboards.com/thread/773/fm6-ptg-charity-sign-name for info on the event.

Rally Time

THEe eSports WRC Championship is back — and powered by Hyundai.  They aim to find the best player on WRC 6 — the official FIA World Rally Championship WRC game.  Take the title and you’ll bag a new Hyundai i20.

The firm’s Scott Noh said:

“The eSports WRC championship is the perfect way for people around the world to be part of the WRC family by competing in online rallies in parallel to the official ones.”

Players will earn points on each round, before making it to the final where the best eight will bid to emulate last year’s winner Niklas Krellenberg.

On The Stream

THERE are plenty of layers to Connor McKervey.  He is a pinball wizard on Livestream.  He also recently started Dressed To Press X — a fortnightly show on gaming apparel and cosplay.  Six episodes are available now with more coming to JoypadAndMe.com.

McKervey often records his Livestream sessions and uploads them to YouTube so no worries if you miss the live show.  McKervey is a digital pinball addict and hosts Silverball Sunday — Livestreams of Zen Pinball 2 on the last Sunday of each month.  He also hosts special pinball streams for the likes of next week’s Aliens Day on April 26 and Star Wars day on May 4.  Follow @vdjomb on Twitter or search for vdjomb on YouTube.

I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…

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Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

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